It was a nice morning and I rode to work in normal people clothes. Or at least what passes for normal people clothes around here in the summer, which is best described as business casual and worst described as "pants'n'shirt." It was cool, but not quite as cool as I wanted it to be. I'm ready for autumn and there's still far too much summer left for this to be the case.
What's worse than being shoaled? Well, a lot of things, including famine, pestilence, and being out of Cocoa Krispies, assuming you like chocolate breakfast cereals and are 8 years old. But another thing that's worse than being shoaled is being shoaled by someone with a really squeaky bike with brakes that squeal. When she rode in front and next to me at the first red light after the park on East Capitol, I glanced over, perhaps with a look of mild perturbance. In response, the woman, who was older, but in no real way grandmotherly, said something like "it's my early warning system." Not early enough if you couldn't effectively stop behind me. At the turn of the light, I pushed off and was once again in front and I thought that she certainly must've noticed that I intended to ride faster than she did, but this in no way prevented her from pulling in front of me again when I was stuck at the next red. I didn't look over this time because I didn't have to. I heard her coming. There was an early warning system.
Another bollard down on Pennsylvania Avenue. Another picture taken and tweet sent. I also submitted a 311 request. I'm thinking of doing a whole photo series of bollards in repose. Or maybe I should do chalk outlines. Or maybe I should just collect all of the bollards and build my own bike lanes! Or perhaps I should sharpen one and use it as a spear to hunt fish for some reason. There's lots of things you can do with a 'dead' bollard. It wouldn't bother me so much except for the reason that it's another indication of how poorly people are capable of operating their cars/taxis/buses/war elephants. If a carelessly driven vehicle can rip out an object (one with reflective tape) from its bolted position in asphalt, what would that carelessly driven car do to a bicyclist or pedestrian? Destruction of road signs and bollards is a kind of banal reminder of the absolute carnage that cars can do. It's this kind of thing that's lurking in the background, acting subconsciously, keeps people off bikes.
I rode up 15th, for a change. For much of it, I was behind another guy on a bike, so he cleared the path from the oncoming rush of cyclists heading southbound, much like how a fullback clears the way for the running back behind him (I think that's a football reference). I advise always having a lead blocker when taking this route. If you're not lucky enough to have someone else play this role, you can always put a mannequin in a wheelbarrow and attach that whole contraption to the front end of your bike. Just make sure the mannequin is wearing a dress and has long hair, so you can benefit from the Mannequin Poppins Effect.
Bike commuting might or might not be a useful diversion for those predisposed to asking big, dumb philosophical questions. Like, are you sharing the road if you're the only one on it? Are you passing someone on the left or are they just passing you in reverse on the right? Does your bike bell even exist if you never ring it? And more mundane ones like, why don't drivers ever see me and change lanes and almost hit me with their cars? Am I real? The confidence (?) with which some people drive, assuming that there's nothing around them at all because there are no cars around them, amazes me. I'm thinking about buying a shirt that reads "I'm a car" to see if this has any effect. I'd also like a shirt that has "Three feet to pass, jackass" written on the back, but that should be a different shirt. Need more than one shirt anyway. And one for my mannequin.
I think I've seen more bicyclists riding down Massachusetts lately. I take this as a generally good sign that the number of bike commuters is increasing. Huzzah.